The Denver Broncos moved into the Top 10 in total DVOA from Football Outsiders after their win over the San Francisco 49ers in Week 3. They were just outside the mark last week, but another outstanding defensive effort paired with improvement in special teams helped offset the downward spiral the offense is experiencing.
Denver (10): I know, I know. Anyone who watched that 49ers-Broncos slogfest on Sunday Night Football has to wonder what on earth Denver is doing here. The answer is that they’ve played very good defense all season. I wrote all offseason about how last year’s Denver defense was a bit of a statistical mirage, but this year’s defense is facing an average number of drives and stopping opposing offenses with much more efficiency. The Broncos have allowed an average of 12.0 points per game. They’re fifth in defensive DVOA so far, and that’s enough to get them into the top 10 overall despite a below-average offense.
I covered that shade from FO on the Broncos defense this offseason. I was surprised and annoyed they thought the Broncos defense would take a big step backwards this season, so it was nice to see them admit that Denver is a surprise in that regard. Another surprise is just how bad the offense has been. They are now ranked in the low 20s in VOA.
TOTAL DVOA: 10.9% (10th)
OFFENSIVE VOA: -11.1% (22nd)
DEFENSIVE VOA: -24.3% (5th)
ST DVOA: -2.3% (25th)
As someone who is a big believer in the DVOA system, I usually pay attention to where Denver lines up in their metrics. More often than not, teams that rank in their Top 10 through the regular season end up playoff teams.
If the offense ever gets in sync and improves to where we all thought they’d be this season with Russell Wilson at quarterback, then we could be seeing a real contender take shape here this season. If they don’t, we could see them head back towards the mean and not even see the playoffs.